I was given Z by my lovely friend who I exchange recommendations with often. I had recommended Gone Girl and she, Z, A Novel Of Zelda Fitzgerald. Halfway through Gone Girl she sent me a text saying: ‘Ok, this woman is crazy!!!’ and I laughed knowing almost exactly where she was in the book. Z, thankfully, was a whole different pace – which I definitely needed after the Gone Girl crazy train. (totally worth the read by the way. I dare you to put it down…)
A fictional novel about two real people. Two rather historical figures in the world of literature… Those figures being Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. An interesting thing, that is, writing a fictional story based on something real. I’ve never read anything like it and halfway through I couldn’t help find out how true to their actual lives that this book was – because it’s really good. From the writing to the tension to the absolute disasters that continually pummel this couple who are so desperately in love, it reads like a tragic truth that you only hope wasn’t actually as dismal as it’s written to be.
Zelda, a belle of the South with an appetite for excitement and a passion for dance, meets Fitzgerald at a dance at the local country club at the tender age of seventeen. After a little bit of wooing from this rather unsuitable suitor – no pedigree, money, or ties to the South – she falls quickly for him and all that his looming career as a writer promises. To her parent’s dismay, they marry in New York City and begin a tumultuous life together that makes them infamous amongst the Jazz Set.
Scott writes This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and The Damned and begins working on Gatsby as their life begins to quickly reflect the lives of the characters that he writes about. Though Zelda plays the role of muse with an inept proficiency, she struggles to find her identity – a theme that will follow her around the world all her life.
Reading this book was not only interesting from the standpoint of getting a glimpse of what it may have been like during that time – what it was like for F. Scott Fitzgerald, someone who is so celebrated now. But what it was like to be a writer at that time and more importantly what it was like to be an intelligent, creative and interesting woman in the Roaring 20’s. She herself was a writer, a dancer, a painter, but to the world she was Mrs F Scott Fitzgerald.
Zelda Fitzgerald is often painted as a raving lunatic but if wanting to have an identity for yourself means your crazy, I don’t know a woman who wouldn’t sympathize in this day and age – let alone wouldn’t be considered crazy herself. This novel brought forth a lot of interesting points, especially on the leaps and bounds that the medical system has made in addressing mental illness. It also made me think a lot about love and passion. From reading this novel you know that regardless of anything, the love between Zelda and Scott was real. Real and tragic and full of all of the things that make for a terribly sad yet somehow hopeful love story.
Needless to say, I highly recommend Zelda.
Read anything interesting lately? I’m always looking for suggestions and am also working on my Summer Reads list. Would love to hear what you’re reading and loving in the comment section.
See more on Z HERE